Agri Business

‘Indonesian rainforests under threat from palm tree cultivation’

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 28, 2012

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A scathing report put together by Greenpeace India on the Indonesian palm oil industry could hold important lessons for Indian policy makers on commercial exploitation of forest land.

The report, titled Frying the Forest, shines light on the devastating impact of the palm oil industry on Indonesia’s rainforests, particularly the flagging palm oil major Duta Palma as a case study in bad practices.

The report said Duta Palma is flouting environmental norms, threatening local residents and government officials. The company has been in conflict with local communities over land issues, which led to massive protests in November 2011.

Greenpeace India’s forest campaigner, Mr Nandikesh Sivalingam, said they are pushing for a time-bound ‘zero deforestation policy’ in Indonesia.

India is the world’s largest palm oil importer with Indonesia being its primary source of supply. It imported about 19 per cent of the global palm oil produce, which was 45.75 million tonnes in 2010.

“Indian companies don’t know where their produce comes from. They buy from different suppliers,” said Mr Sivalingam.

He said Indian companies should stop trading with Duta Palma and other Indonesian palm oil companies if they refuse to implement sustainable policies on conservation of forests.

The report said Duta Palma supplies palm oil to companies like Adani-Wilmar, Ruchi Soya, and Emami among others. ITC, Britannia Industries, Parle, PepsiCo India and KFC India use palm oil for processing their products, Mr Sivalingam said.

Indonesia’s tropical forests are cleared and illegally burnt down for cultivating palm oil trees. Clearing the forest using slash-and-burn techniques burns the carbon in the forest soil to form carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

These environmentally-unsound techniques caused the 1997 haze over Indonesia which led to the diversion of international flights and affected the economies of neighbouring Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Brunei.

Critically endangered species like the Sumatran tiger and the oOrang-utan depend heavily on these rainforests, which are now under serious threat.

Published on June 28, 2012

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